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Waterfall Photography Tips

 27th Apr 2010

waterfall photographyBlurry waterfall photography is one of the great classics of shooting landscape ­ but how do you control it so the blur is just right?

The blur of the moving water is achieved by using a slow shutter speed of between ½ second and 2 seconds which is a much longer exposure than you’d normally use for most photography.

Because of these long exposures there’s a real danger of overexposing the picture so it’s all washed out with no sign of the waterfall, never mind the blurry candy-floss water!

The way to get around this is to get yourself a couple of neutral density filters.

These are a bit like sun glasses for your camera only they’re grey and have no colour content at all.

Their sole purpose is in life is to make things darker by cutting out light, ­ which is what you’ll need to do with the waterfall so you can get those long slow shutter speeds without over exposing the image.

If you already have a polarising filter make sure to take that along with you. If your neutral density filters aren’t dark enough to get the slow shutter speeds - add the polariser which will make things darker still.

The other thing you’ll need as a sturdy tripod. I say ‘sturdy’ and I do mean it. If you’ve bought a cheap tripod that wobbles even the tiniest bit ­ you’d have been better off to spend the money down the pub because a wobbly tripod is useless.

The last thing to consider is the light. Blurry waterfall photography works best on dull days because

a) it’s darker so you can get that slow shutter speed and
b) if the sun’s shining on the white highlights chances are they’ll burn out and contain no detail.

If you can’t do it on a dull day - ­ find a stretch of water that’s in shade as in the pic at the top.

OK ­ so you’re at the waterfall and rearing to go!

  • meter-overSet your camera to Shutter Priority ­ that’s S or TV on the command dial depending on the make of camera.
  • Select a speed of ½ second
  • Check the camera’s light meter to see if the shot’s correctly exposed
  • If the light meter’s indicating the shot’s over exposed ­ add a neutral density filter and re-check
  • meter-correctOnce the light meter’s in the middle and indicating correct exposure use the self timer to activate the shutter
  • Repeat the above for speeds up to as long as 2 seconds because the longer the shutter speeds ­ the more the water will blur.

If you’d like to practise more techniques like this or would simply like to make your camera take the shots you want to take ­ try our beginners photography course download (priced at only £9.99) which is designed to help you see the biggest difference to your photography in the shortest possible time.

mike browneOr why not come on a One to One Photography Course and have my undivided attention for the whole day? You won’t be held back or left behind because it’s just you and me ­ and I promise you I don’t bite!